Austin is pushing out all of its artists.

More accurately, NaturallyCurly’s hometown has been pushing out its more vulnerable residents, especially in older established neighborhoods of color. The loss of artists that still depend on at least a part-time, stable “straight job” to not starve while they sell and perfect their craft (see also: 95% of artists”> is being profoundly and exponentially felt with every new development. Not only are rising neighborhood costs and living costs a threat, the new neighbors don’t always play nicely.

Seriously, who builds a hotel next to a live music bar only to get litigious about the music?

The media savvy among us will note the date on that article, but if y’all don’t know how enduring my irritation can be just keep following me here and you’ll get it.

An intense salt shaker underscores the metaphor
Team Sodium Chloride for LIFE

Of course there are still strong pockets of colorful, even subversive spaces in the city, but Austinites and firmly rooted Austin transplants all discuss the city’s art, art space, and artist hemorrhages like the weather.

“Heard a cold front’s coming in, gonna wrap up all my outdoor succulents, and by the way, did you hear the Sekrit Theater is being sold?”

With each shuttered door, Austin is losing its luster faster than badly maintained blonde. Beau Reichert of said Sekrit Theater choosing to keep his sanity and re-set up shop in New Mexico was understandable, but knowing the theater wasn’t going to be the same was a surprisingly deep personal loss. I spent hours over years in the city listening to poetry readings, dodging children in Halloween costumes, and even watching vintage cinema blown up on Beau’s outdoor screen there.

To say nothing of all the time I spent climbing into whatever was sturdy enough for photo ops…

Author pictured in a hot air balloon basket
Yours truly in a corset, in a detached hot air balloon basket, circa 2015

And although the realtors involved are Beau’s friends that are doing their best to only entertain offers from people that would maintain the space as an art hub, or educational plot, I still teared up discussing the end of an era with them. To hear more native Austinites speak, this ball has been rolling since about the time I was born, so although I’m old enough to vote and financially support the art here, turning this tide is going to take quite a bit of effort and time. Until then, I’ve decided that in order to see the change I want in the world, I’m going to be the change. Literally. 

A shot of the Greenhouse at the Sekrit Theater
The scene set right before a great play on the Sekrit Theater grounds

Because I’m a cis-woman, it’s expected that I be into decorating—both myself, my home, and any unwilling eligible men that I’m supposed to charm into holding still enough to let me. So being purposeful in my adornment isn’t a revolutionary act in and of itself. But how I do so is my choice, and I believe that the ways I follow through ARE art. Figuring out how light and colors play off my spice-brown skin in summer vs winter, night vs day, from outfit to outfit took time. Altering jewelry to fit better and be spaced more flatteringly was work. I mix and match scents to suit my ensembles and surroundings. Coordinating the proportions of whatever my hair’s doing to what I’m wearing? Same story.

I don’t feel complete if I’m not as dressed as I could be, not just because I feel like I need to be anything for anybody, but because I want my own brand to stand out and say “APRIL” before I do.  And pushing the boundaries of what I can wear that actually reflects my ‘piles of beads, bones, and afro-nuwave’ aesthetic while still maintaining office decorum (corsets UNDER the clothes, for instance”> is a challenge I’ve really been enjoying. Learning to tailor and embroider things for myself are going to be my next projects. It’s all about being an ongoing installation, even if I expect these latest expansions to take me into “Band-Aid ® chic”.

I don’t have to wait for the weird of yesteryear to come back to me. I can do bad all by myself.

What do you think, curlies?

Am I giving myself too much credit here?

Or do you think it’s possible to make yourself an artistic respite when what’s around you isn’t enough?

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